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Coal

As Illinois Coal Jobs Disappear, Some Are Looking To The Sun

Matt Reuscher was laid off a decade ago from Peabody Energy’s Gateway coal mine in Southern Illinois, in the midst of a drought that made the water needed to wash the coal too scarce and caused production to drop, as he remembers it. Reuscher’s grandfather and two uncles had been miners, and his father — a machinist — did much work with the mines. Like many young men in Southern Illinois, it was a natural career choice for Reuscher. Still in his early 20s when he was laid off, Reuscher “spent that summer doing odds and ends, not really finding much of anything I enjoyed doing as much as being underground.” By fall of 2012, he started working installing solar panels for StraightUp Solar, one of very few solar companies operating in the heart of Illinois coal country. He heard about the job through a family friend and figured he’d give it a try since he had a construction background. He immediately loved the work, and he’s become an evangelist for the clean energy shift happening nationwide, if more slowly in Southern Illinois. With colleagues, he fundraised to install solar panels in tiny villages on the Miskito Coast of Nicaragua, and he became a solar electrician and worked on StraightUp Solar installations powering the wastewater treatment center and civic center in Carbondale, Illinois — a town named for coal.

Protest Against Company’s Climate-Busting Court Action

Environmental campaigners staged a protest outside Enfield Power Station against what they claim is an “attack on democracy” by the site’s owners. Global Justice Now activists marched to the energy plant in Brimsdown as part of a national day of action against fossil fuel companies driving up climate costs. Enfield Power Station is owned by German company Uniper, which is currently taking legal action again the Dutch government over its decision to phase out coal burning by 2030. Uniper opened a coal plant in the Netherlands in 2015 and is demanding compensation for the revenues it will lose from closing it, reported to be £774million. Energy companies are able to seek such compensation under an international agreement called the Energy Charter Treaty, to which the UK is signed up.

Bull Mountains Victory And The ‘Social Cost Of Carbon’

Roundup, Montana - Some rare good news came down from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently. In a 2-1 decision, the court rejected an Environmental Assessment (EA) that would have green lighted expansion to the Bull Mountains underground coal mine near Roundup, Montana. The court majority held that the EA provided no scientific reasoning to support its conclusion that the expansion would have no significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions. A Trump appointee on the 3-judge panel dissented on grounds that courts “are ill-equipped to step into highly politicized scientific debates like this.” As a result of the 9th Circuit decision, four environmental groups — 350 Montana, Montana Environmental Information Center, Sierra Club, and WildEarth Guardians — will be allowed to continue their lawsuit challenging the environmental review in Montana federal court.

Activists Released After Blockade Of Manchin Coal Operation

Grant Town, WV, Monday April 11– Sixteen activists who were arrested on Saturday for blockading the coal-fired Grant Town Power Plant that burns coal waste to profit US Senator Joe Manchin were released from jail overnight. On Sunday, activists returned to the plant for a Palm Sunday service to continue their call for Manchin to stop blocking passage of the federal Build Back Better bill. On Saturday, hundreds of West Virginia residents and climate change activists protested outside of the plant for several hours on Saturday to bring light to the fact that not only has Manchin been stalling efforts to address climate change, but he is also personally benefiting from the continuation of fossil fuels that are creating climate chaos in US communities– including the ones he represents.

Amid Rolling Blackouts, Energy Workers Fight For Clean Public Power

The lights went out around Johannesburg on a Monday morning in November 2021, not to flicker back on until early that Friday in some areas. It marked the last rolling blackout of a year troubled by more outages than any in recent memory. The fate of Eskom, the beleaguered power utility behind the crisis, is now at the center of South Africa’s struggle for a just energy transition — a break from fossil fuels without leaving behind frontline communities or energy workers. As a public company, Eskom has a constitutional mandate to guarantee electricity as a basic right. But the utility struggles to meet that mandate with its aging equipment, staggering debt, corruption and rules that require it to break even, which drive exorbitant rate hikes.

Campaign To Shut Down New England’s Last Coal Plant Is Doing ‘What Must Be Done’ For The Planet

There’s one form of power that’s generated when hot water turns turbines to create electricity. There are other forms of power held by investors, property owners and regulatory agencies. And then there’s people power, which can be harnessed to affect decisions of investors, property owners and regulatory agencies — such that fossil fuel-burning operations cease running. That’s what the No Coal No Gas campaign seeks to do with its focus on shutting down New England’s last coal-burning power plant, Merrimack Station in Bow, New Hampshire. No Coal No Gas, which launched its first protest against the power plant in 2019, returned to Bow on Oct. 3 for a day of mass action. In addition to a rally on an adjacent ballfield and a flotilla of “kayaktivists” in the Merrimack River, campaign members planted gardens on company property, including a bed hacked out with pickaxes in the middle of an access road. 

Report: Plastics To Outpace Coal In Driving Climate Change

Bennington, VT - Plastics are on track to contribute more climate change emissions than coal plants by 2030, a new report finds. As fossil fuel companies seek to recoup falling profits, they are increasing plastics production and cancelling out greenhouse gas reductions gained from the recent closures of 65 percent of the country’s coal-fired power plants. The New Coal: Plastics and Climate Change by Beyond Plastics at Bennington College analyzes never-before-compiled data of ten stages of plastics production, usage, and disposal and finds that the U.S. plastics industry is releasing at least 232 million tons of greenhouse gases each year, the equivalent of 116 average-sized coal-fired power plants. And that number is growing quickly.

Kayaktivists Are Working To Permanently Close Coal Power Plant

Julie Macuga paints two scenes when describing the Merrimack River – the first as a scenic site, where kayakers and canoers alike can float in nature. The second image is an ugly industrial site crowding the waterway with tall, brown smokestacks spewing clouds of carbon, polluting the water and air. “It’s this beautiful place and it’s juxtaposed with this horrible coal plant,” she said. Macuga was one of a group of protesters who paddled up and down the river on Wednesday in protest of the Merrimack Station power plant in Bow. Just after the sun came up, she and eleven other “kayakativists” from the campaign No Coal No Gas took to the river at 6 a.m. in their latest demonstration in hopes of shutting down the plant. The coal stack burned as the group sang and chanted, paddling up and floating back down in front of the plant.

Cycle Tour Exposes Adani’s Destruction Of Country

Australia - More than 100 people embarked on the “Tour de Carmichael”, a 105-kilometre cycle for Country through sacred Wangan and Jagalingou land to Adani’s coal mine site in the Galilee Basin in early May. They reached the mine site on May 7. The four-day action was led by Wangan and Jagalingou man, Coedie MacAvoy, son of Uncle Adrian Burragubba. “It's distressing to see the change in landscape. We don’t know what damage the mine will do to our sacred Doongmabulla Springs. That's why we're here — to expose Adani's destruction of Country,” MacAvoy said. The tour had previously stopped at a number of significant sites to the Wangan and Jagalingou people, and camped at “Dalgayu Dina”, the site on Adani’s pastoral lease where McAvoy and others have built a coroboree ground and campsite.

Climate Activists Mount Utility Strike

Santa is not the only one giving out coal this year. Climate activists like Johnny Sanchez and Sonja Birthisel in Portland, Maine, recently sent their utility company an envelope of coal instead of payment towards their electric bill. This symbolic act of defiance, organized by the No Coal No Gas coalition, is part of a broad New England consumer strike against utility payments to protest the continued burning of coal. The Strike Down Coal campaign launched on Sept. 1 and aims to continue until ISO New England — the system operator responsible for running New England’s energy grid and power system — agrees to stop subsidizing coal. By withholding payments, activists hope to send the utility company a message that burning coal is unnecessary, not to mention financially and morally irresponsible.

Australia: Youth Sue To Stop Coal Mine Expansion

A class action launched on behalf of young people everywhere seeks an injunction to stop the Australian Government approving an extension to Whitehaven's Vickery coal mine, arguing it will harm young people by exacerbating climate change. The injunction, filed in the Federal Court on Tuesday, is a first for Australia. An expert says it could break new legal ground with widespread ramifications, causing problems for any new coal mine in Australia — and possibly any fossil fuel project — if it is successful.

Climate Activists Are Closer Than Ever To Ending All Fossil Fuel Investments

When New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced last month that the state would divest its over $200 billion Common Retirement Fund from more than 20 coal companies, it marked an important milestone for a grassroots campaign that has seen a recent burst of new momentum. In an op-ed published on July 12, DiNapoli stated, “After a thorough assessment, the fund has divested from 22 thermal coal mining companies that are not prepared to thrive, or even survive, in the low-carbon economy.” This victory is thanks to a near decade-long effort by activists who have been pressuring New York to divest from the companies most responsible for causing the climate crisis. A surge in youth-led activism has brought new energy to this campaign, putting pressure on both the comptroller’s office and state legislators. While New York still has not ended its investments in oil and gas companies, DiNapoli’s decision to divest from coal shows climate activists are having a real impact on one of the largest state pension funds in the United States.

Little Village Covered In Dust During Respiratory Pandemic

Chicago, IL - City officials on Sunday sought to lay the blame for the massive dust cloud that descended on Little Village on a “dishonest” developer that demolished an old coal plant smokestack the day before. But the city had an active role in the demolition, Mayor Lori Lightfoot acknowledged, by approving permits and overseeing the work Saturday. In the midst of managing the city’s battle against the deadly coronavirus “literally robbing people of their ability to breathe,” Lightfoot had to scramble to contain the damage from Saturday’s emergency. Activists had begged the city not to allow the demolition, but it instead proceeded with representatives from the city’s Department of Health, Buildings and Fire Department on hand to watch.

Siemens Annual Meeting Protested Over Support For Coal Mines

With hundreds of protestors chanting outside and an over-the-top security presence inside, Siemens annual general meeting (AGM) in Munich yesterday was dominated by stern criticism, by both institutional investors and ordinary Germans, of Siemens’ decision to stick with a contract to supply signalling technology for the Carmichael coal rail line.

Hope Of A Sustainable Future In West Virginia’s Coal Country

An intimate portrait of West Virginia’s “coal country,” where locals plan for a sustainable future amid the devastation wreaked by the fossil fuel industry. On the national stage, there is not a lot of chatter about coal anymore. Once the fuel that drove the engine of US “progress,” coal use has plummeted primarily due to market forces and the difficulty in extracting the coal that is left. Despite the propaganda line, the one thing that has not killed King Coal is regulation — the little that ever existed.
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